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Arizona dad strips down to crop top and shorts at board meeting to protest school dress code

Ira Latham said he expects the Higley Unified School District to enforce policies that help students "know how they can contribute to a safe classroom environment."
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An Arizona father stripped down to a crop top and short shorts at a school board meeting to protest a proposed dress code that would allow tank tops and students' showing their midriffs.

Ira Latham was among several parents at the Higley Unified School District's Sept. 20 meeting to challenge board members about the policy change.

"As a parent, I expect the district to be able to enforce policies that help my children be able to go to class and know how they can contribute to a safe classroom environment, as well as limiting the needless distractions in class," Latham said.

"This policy does not do that," he said. "I also think that it brings a lot of unnecessary pressure on teachers having to deal with the vagueness of this policy."

"Because I have no other way to describe my concerns about this policy, I’ll do an object lesson," he continued.

Latham, who has four children in the district, then stripped out of his shirt and pants down to a black crop top with spaghetti straps and short jean shorts.

"Now, if you ask me, this is inappropriate for a board meeting," he said as other parents in attendance snickered and stared at him in shock.

"If you have a dress code policy that allows this in a classroom, it does not promote a safe classroom environment, as well as limiting the amount of distractions in a classroom," he continued.

Latham could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. He told NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix this week that he thinks the district needs to be preparing students to enter the workforce and setting the right expectations.

"The dress code that they wanted to get to is just basically a dress code for a public pool. Make sure that kids cover their underwear, and that’s about it," he said.

The new policy said students had to wear clothing that covered "all private body parts and/or undergarments and must not be see-through," according to KPNX.

"Undergarment waistbands and/or straps that are incidentally visible under clothing are permitted; however, undergarments may not be worn as clothing," the policy said.

Other parents at the meeting also had concerns about the policy. One mother told board members that she feared bullying would increase, while another speaker said there needed to be a "very clear, dignified, established dress code."

One parent said that while she supports her children's expressing themselves through clothing, she believed the district needed to lead by example.

"If you can't respect yourself, I'm not sure how you can respect others," she said. "So it's a distraction, yes — that's also a concern. But also, we need to be raising these girls to be women in society and have that self-respect and dignity."

Despite the objections, the board voted 3-2 to approve the dress code change, according to KPNX. The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment.